Australien — Defence rejects media reports on clothing and equipment

The Chief of Army, Lieu­tenant Gen­er­al Ken Gille­spie and Chief Exec­u­tive Offi­cer of Defence Materiel Organ­i­sa­tion (DMO), Dr Stephen Gum­ley strong­ly reject claims in today’s press alleg­ing wide spread issues with sol­diers’ com­bat cloth­ing and equip­ment.

The alle­ga­tions con­cern the acqui­si­tion process with­in Defence for the pro­cure­ment of cloth­ing and equip­ment, also claim­ing that Army has not dealt with issues of con­cern, plac­ing sol­diers at risk.

“I want to reas­sure our sol­diers, their fam­i­lies and the Aus­tralian pub­lic, that the infer­ences in this arti­cle are not accu­rate. Indeed in near­ly a decade of warfight­ing our train­ing and our equip­ment have pro­tect­ed our peo­ple and saved many lives,” said Gen­er­al Gille­spie.

Both Gen­er­al Gille­spie and Dr Gum­ley open­ly reject the claim that ‘hun­dreds of com­plaints by sol­diers about their gear have not been act­ed on by the Defence bureau­cra­cy’ as sim­ply unfound­ed.

“Since the 2006 Cloth­ing Review, Defence has sup­plied approx­i­mate­ly five mil­lion items of cloth­ing and per­son­al equip­ment each year rang­ing from but­tons and boot­laces to body armour. All sol­diers have the abil­i­ty to report on their equip­ment and from Jan­u­ary 2007 there have been 59 Reports on Defec­tive or Unsat­is­fac­to­ry Materiel (RODUMs) on per­son­al com­bat equip­ment includ­ing load car­riage equip­ment, body armour and boots from the Mid­dle East Area of Oper­a­tions. Con­trary to today’s, arti­cle all of these have been act­ed upon,” Dr Gum­ley said.

Gen­er­al Gille­spie said to main­tain the ongo­ing safe­ty and qual­i­ty of our com­bat equip­ment and cloth­ing, Army works close­ly with the DMO to respond to com­plaints and to con­tin­u­ous­ly review the cloth­ing and equip­ment needs of our per­son­nel.

“An inquiry held into the death of Cor­po­ral Math­ew Hop­kins, found that the gun­shot wound Cor­po­ral Hop­kins sus­tained was fatal and that the body armour worn by Cor­po­ral Hop­kins was not a con­tribut­ing fac­tor in his death.

“Con­trary to media reports, Army has respond­ed to feed­back from sol­diers deployed on oper­a­tions, and I can advise that a deci­sion was made at a specif­i­cal­ly con­vened Army bat­tle wor­thi­ness board to increase the mod­u­lar­i­ty of the cur­rent­ly used Body Armour Sys­tem by pro­vid­ing the option for a lighter bal­lis­tic plate.

“Tri­als of this new equip­ment are cur­rent­ly under­way and shows that Defence is both respon­sive to and treats seri­ous­ly issues raised by our deployed sol­diers.” said Gen­er­al Gille­spie.

“There is no more impor­tant task for DMO than to ensure the pro­vi­sion of safe, fit for pur­pose, high qual­i­ty cloth­ing and per­son­al equip­ment to the men and women of the ADF. Sol­diers are able to raise equip­ment con­cerns through a well-estab­lished report­ing process. Where issues are iden­ti­fied, these are act­ed upon swift­ly,” said Dr Gum­ley.

Sol­diers across Army are strong­ly encour­aged to raise any con­cerns through their chain of com­mand, the Reg­i­men­tal Sergeant Major of the Army or defec­tive or unsat­is­fac­to­ry materiel reports. This feed­back is used to iden­ti­fy defec­tive items as well as to pro­vide sug­ges­tions for capa­bil­i­ty enhance­ments. Fur­ther­more, oper­a­tional com­man­ders are rou­tine­ly post­ed from the field back into the Army and Defence Head­quar­ters in order to ensure that their exper­tise is cap­tured and for them to shape Army’s cur­rent and future equip­ment and train­ing require­ments.

The pro­cure­ment of cloth­ing and equip­ment under­went sig­nif­i­cant reform as a result of the 2006 ADF Cloth­ing Review. The review made 29 rec­om­men­da­tions along five themes of organ­i­sa­tion­al reform, gov­er­nance and pro­bity, busi­ness process, indus­try and com­merce and involve­ment of the Defence Sci­ence and Tech­nol­o­gy Organ­i­sa­tion (DSTO). These rec­om­men­da­tions have all been imple­ment­ed over the last cou­ple of years.

Cloth­ing pro­cure­ment reforms have includ­ed greater pro­cure­ment plan­ning, inven­to­ry man­age­ment and staff train­ing to broad­en and deep­en staff tech­ni­cal and core skills. These actions ensure the men and women of the ADF receive the high­est stan­dard cloth­ing and equip­ment avail­able.

The ADF pro­vides safe, fit for pur­pose, high qual­i­ty cloth­ing and per­son­al equip­ment to the men and women of the Aus­tralian Defence Force,” said Gen­er­al Gille­spie.

Media con­tact: Defence Media Liai­son: (02) 6127 1999 or 0408 498 664

Press release
Min­is­te­r­i­al Sup­port and Pub­lic Affairs,
Depart­ment of Defence,
Can­ber­ra, Aus­tralia